Important strike questions

I read the letter from Ginny Lefeaux (‘The strike’s impact on us students’ The NEWS, June 3) with great interest.

I read the letter from Ginny Lefeaux (‘The strike’s impact on us students’ The NEWS, June 3) with great interest.

Apparently she has bought into the BCTF line without thorough examination. Well, there is another side to the story.

One of her quotes which requires a reasoned response is this: “Their request for smaller class sizes, more support staff and less budget cuts is nowhere near unreasonable.”

Let’s look at some genuine facts to see what is truly reasonable.

At present, there are approximately 45,000 teachers in B.C. and the average class size is about 26. One figure being bandied about is to reduce average class size to 21. If ratios hold true this would mean hiring thousands of new teachers. At an average salary of $72,000 (BCTF’s own figure), this means the government would have to pay out perhaps hundreds of millions more a year in additional salaries.

When generous benefits packages are thrown in, the figure becomes close to $1 billion a year. But that is only the beginning.

If you have that many more teachers, you need that many more classrooms, resulting in hundreds of new schools being built, all at enormous capital cost.  Then each school would require a principal, assistant principal, office staff, janitorial staff and an array of expensive supplies. And, yes, the letter writer also wants “more support staff,” another huge potential expense — and no budget cuts are to be allowed to finance these costs.

There are only about two million taxpayers in B.C. Just how much of an additional burden does Lefeaux wish to impose? And she should also remember that whatever the government takes from us is no longer available to spend as we would wish, but that money is now spent as government bureaucrats wish, thereby diminishing our freedom.

More taxes would mean even less freedom. Just how much of our freedom is Lefeaux — and the thousands of BCTF members — willing to see us lose?

These are important questions which must be openly addressed.

Leonard M. Melman

Nanoose Bay

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